There is a nasty thing that happens in the flower business called order gathering. A business, referred to as an order-gatherer, that has no intention of actually filling an order manages to convince the customer that they will. They then "gather" the order, collecting order information, payment, etc.
They then try and get a real local florist to actually do the hard work of preparing and filling the order. Unfortunately they pass along only a fraction of the money that you paid and keep the rest in a practice known as skimming. You order the arrangement shown in the first picture, but you get the arrangement shown in the second picture. You get less than what you paid for. This is the problem with order gathering.
There are two main steps to order gathering. The first is to get the customer to order, usually through an attractive and well-organized ecommerce website like this one. To get the retail customer to order flowers the order gatherer makes a pretty big promise, usually in the form of a photograph of a spectacular floral arrangement. They assure you this is what you are buying.
You place your order and pay your money, as shown on this receipt:
From this point on it's kind of a negotiation between the order gatherer and the filling florist. The order gatherer wants to keep as much money as possible, and they'll start cutting corners and making sacrifices – anything to get the cost down. Here is an example of what the order gathering entity sends to the filling florist, showing how much money they skimmed (almost $20) and how vague they are in their instructions.
With that direction, and so much less money, the filling florist is being asked to do something very different than what you had in mind. Take a look at the chart below:
The smaller turquoise piece? That is what the order gatherer skimmed off the order. Almost a third of the money you paid was completely removed from the equation. It never gets to the people that actually make and deliver your flowers. This is order gathering!
Imagine if order gathering also happened with pizza. A company that has absolutely no intention of making or delivering your pizza convinces you to call them and place an order.
They then try and find a real local pizzeria to actually bake and deliver the pizza, but for a fraction of what you paid. First they probably cut the size – the large that you ordered becomes a medium. The fresh mushrooms that you were promised become canned. Sacrifices are made in the name of profit.
It wouldn't work because with pizza the customer (the person that pays) usually gets to see it, and they know exactly what to expect. They'd be furious if they were shortchanged in this way.
But the flower business is different. Often the customer never even sees the flowers (people generally send flowers to someone else) and, even if they do, they may not understand flowers well enough to realize that there was a problem. This is just one of the problems that order gathering creates.
If the customer is upset they usually get upset at the wrong person. They see the local florist, the one that prepared and delivered the flowers, as the one that shortchanged them. That's not fair – the local florist did exactly what they were asked and paid to do.
The industry as a whole also suffers, because the customer comes away thinking that flowers are a lousy gift, that you never get what you pay for.
That's not true. Flowers are an amazing gift, one of the very best that you can give. The trick is to avoid order gathering and follow some simple guidelines to ensure that you deal directly with a real local florist.